What would you most like to take pictures of if you were a White House photographer? Why?
What do you think people can learn from studying behind-the-scenes photographs taken at the White House?
In the article, the writer says the public usually sees what goes on at the White House "through a very manicured lens." What does this mean? Do you think it's right that the public usually only gets to see what happens at the White House in this way? Why or why not?
According to the article, librarians and historians aren't only identifying people in behind-the-scenes photographs taken at the White House. They're also figuring out how the images fit into the timeline of historical events. Why is this important?
- In groups, pairs or on their own, have students pick one U.S. president.
- Instruct students to conduct research to learn all about that president and his time in office. Challenge them to identify overall themes, defining moments and key players that influenced the president's tenure.
- Encourage students to find photographs that they think define the president's time in office. Then have them write a brief essay explaining how the photos they selected tell the story of this presidency.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
This teacher’s resource guide from the National Portrait Gallery uses Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington to introduce students to events that shaped Washington’s life. It provides lesson plans that include suggested objectives, procedures, related standards in historical thinking and worksheets.
This website, courtesy of the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, provides brief biographies, vital stats and National Portrait Gallery paintings of all presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump.
In lessons in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, students study the Civil War through portraits of President Abraham Lincoln. Students will analyze this time through the famous “cracked-plate” photograph of Lincoln, two plaster “life masks,” and an eyewitness drawing of Lincoln’s arrival in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
This 1996 issue of From Art to Zoo, courtesy of the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, includes activities to introduce students to the office of the presidency and the process of electing the president. It includes lessons on political campaigns, political parties and the Electoral College.
This online exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery features photographs and artwork that illustrate steps in a long life’s journey: from sportscaster to movie star to governor to president; from union leader to corporate spokesman; from FDR liberal to Goldwater conservative; from fierce cold warrior to disarmament proponent.
This National Museum of American History online exhibit features the photographs of photojournalist Fred Maroon, who was granted unusual access to the Nixon White House to document the 1970 reelection campaign as well as major events of the Watergate controversy. It includes a timeline of events from 1968-1974.
This National Portrait Gallery online exhibition takes a multimedia look at the fourteen vice presidents who went on to become president, whether by happenstance or by election in their own right. The site includes an interactive timeline and video interviews with former veeps Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney.
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how ex-commanders-in-chief, from Washington to Obama, bided their time after leaving office.